In 2017 Amazon bought the rights for a The Lord of the Rings TV series for $250 million. That number alone made it the most expensive television series ever, but later, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the whole series would end up costing more than $1 billion. Yes, more expensive than several blockbuster movies combined. The deal also came with a five-season commitment for the series. A guaranteed five seasons should produce at least one full story told from beginning to end, even though there’s always the possibility of more, depending on the series’ success. The deal also allowed for potential spin-off series, which could mean even more of Middle-earth beyond just this adaptation. In November 2019 Amazon officially ordered a second season of the series and that it was already in the works.
The LOTR original series is reported to be a prequel to Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, depicting “previously unexplored stories.” In March 2019, Amazon revealed that the series would be set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before the story of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien scholar and The Lord of the Rings consultant Tom Shippey said: “They may create characters. It must not contradict anything which Tolkien did say. That’s what Amazon has to watch out for. It must be canonical”.
Amazon hired writing team J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek 4, Jungle Cruise) to develop the series in 2018, and they are now the showrunners. J. A. Bayona (Jurassic World) is directing the first episodes.
Table reads with the cast in New Zealand had begun by mid-January 2020, ahead of the start of filming in early February. Production continues in New Zealand, the first country to recover from the pandemic. According to Deadline, the first two episodes are close to completion. Scripts are now being written for season 2.
In January 2020 Amazon revealed 15 cast members:
- First row (L-R): Ema Horvath, Tom Budge, Morfydd Clark, Owain Arthur, Ismael Cruz
- Second row (L-R): Daniel Weyman, Nazanin Boniadi, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Charlie Vickers
- Third row (L-R): Dylan Smith, Markella Kavenagh, Megan Richards, Robert Aramayo, Joseph Mawle
You may recognize:
- Markella Kavenagh from Picnic at Hanging Rock, she is rumored to be the series lead Tyra
- Joseph Mawle Game of Thrones, rumored to be the series lead villain Oren
- Ema Horvath Like.Share.Follow
- Morfydd Clark His Dark Materials, rumored to be young Galadriel
- Maxim Baldry Years and Years
- Robert Aramayo Game Of Thrones, rumored to be Beldor
- Charlie Vickers Medici
- Owain Arthur Hard Sun
- Daniel Weyman Gentleman Jack
- Tait portrayed Shagrat, a Black Uruk (Orc) in The Return of the King from the first trilogy.
In December 2020 a slew of casting details about the upcoming series were announced. Amazon announced 20 cast members were joining the series:
- Cynthia Addai-Robinson
- Maxim Baldry
- Ian Blackburn
- Kip Chapman
- Anthony Crum
- Maxine Cunliffe
- Trystan Gravelle
- Sir Lenny Henry
- Thusitha Jayasundera
- Fabian McCallum
- Simon Merrells
- Geoff Morrell
- Peter Mullan
- Lloyd Owen
- Augustus Prew
- Peter Tait
- Alex Tarrant
- Leon Wadham
- Benjamin Walker
- Sara Zwangobani.
Here is an interactive map of Middle Earth from Amazon. It contains the Island of Númenor.
What does this mean? For one, the series will likely focus on Númenor over other regions of Middle-earth. To understand the island’s significance, we need to go back to the end of the First Age and the downfall of the Dark Lord Morgoth.
A final confrontation with the first Dark Lord required the collective might of Elves, Men, and the Valar (a high form of angel tasked with shaping and governing the world on behalf of the Elvish conception of God, Eru Illúvatar). Morgoth weakened himself across thousands of years in a protracted conflict between the Elves and Men who dared to oppose him, and was finally cast into the Void. The Valar looked favorably on the Men who aided in the conflict and created a refuge for them in the great sea: the island of Númenor — established halfway between Middle-earth and the Valar’s home in the Far West land of Aman, the Undying Lands.
Sauron was active at this time and could also appear.
The series is expected in 2021.